Five Links from a Criminal Justice System

Five Links from a Criminal Justice System October 10, 2015

I’m gonna do this so it gets progressively cheerier as it goes on. The last link is about oppressed people on a party ship prison ship into awesome koalaland exile so uh this subject only gets so cheery. But it’s a terrific link, you should scroll.

“Man Jailed for Traffic Ticket Dies in Cell After 17 Days of Torture. Guards Watched It Happen”:

It was a death sentence.

David Stojcevski, a 32-year-old resident of Roseville, Michigan, was arrested for failing to pay a $772 fine stemming from careless driving. A court ordered him to spend a month in the Macomb County jail.

Over the next 17 days of his incarceration in a brightly lit cell—where he was denied clothing—he lost 50 pounds, suffered convulsions, and eventually began to hallucinate. He died in agony, from a combination of obvious, untreated drug withdrawal and galling neglect.

Making matters worse (if anything could be worse than that), the entirety of his demise was captured on jail surveillance footage.


“Costly Prison Fees Are Putting Inmates Deep in Debt”:

Jeremy Barrett remembers very little of the assault that would change his life.

He was at the end of a three-year sentence in a Florida state prison when he was caught stealing potatoes from the prison kitchen. As punishment, he was sent to confinement with a cellmate who, according to court filings, was “severely mentally ill.” The man attacked Barrett in a violent rage, ultimately gouging out one of his eyes. “I went into shock,” Barrett said.

When he got out of prison one month later, Barrett, 36, sued the Florida Department of Corrections for negligence. The department responded with a counterclaim or a “cost of incarceration lien” of $54,750 — the total cost of Barrett’s 1,095 day stay in the prison at $50 a day.

“They charged me for me being in prison,” Barrett said. “Yeah I was surprised.”

When another inmate, Dee Taylor, was released after serving a three-year bid in various Florida prisons, he also got a bill for around $55,000 from the Florida Department of Corrections.


“Phone Video Clears Man Charged with Assaulting Cop–Even After Video Disappears”:

The ten-second video doesn’t show much, just a quick shot of one Toronto police officer, then a second, who then reaches up to slap away the cellphone camera.

But the brief video recording captured the crucial part of Abdi Sheik-Qasim’s exchange with Toronto police Consts. Piara Dhaliwal and Akin Gul — enough for an Ontario judge to rule Sheik-Qasim had been assaulted by Toronto police, not the other way around. …

It was only when he arrived back home that Sheik-Qasim realized he had enabled a function on the phone that automatically uploaded video files to his Google account. The recording was waiting for him when he checked his email.

more (q: wait where did his phone go? a: film the police)

“The Program That’s Keeping Women Out of Prison–And Saving Money”:

The night Abria Sanders got caught by police with a gun in her possession her life changed forever, though not in the way she expected.

“There was some stuff going down on the streets,” the 27-year-old single mother of two recalls, “so I took a gun from my friend’s house and put it in my purse.” She never made it home.

En route, she was stopped by police officers who found the weapon. Before she knew it she was in a Riker’s Island jail cell facing felony charges and a three-year stint in prison.

“I was so mad at myself,” she says, on a recent morning after dropping her seven-year-old daughter off at school. “I thought I’d messed up everything.”

Sanders could be behind bars in an upstate prison right now, with her children either in foster care or split up between different relatives. But thanks to an innovative program called Justice Home, available only in New York, she got to stay at home and look after them instead – an intervention that she says has been lifesaving.

more (and it looks like this is a “call the program itself and talk to one of their clients but do no other reporting” piece, so take it for what it’s worth…)

and! “Was Australia’s First Zine Made on a Convict Ship?”

Let me ask you something. If it was 1867 and you were on the last convict voyage from Britain to Australia, languishing below deck under lock and key, what would you be doing to pass the time? Squireling away each lime that rolled through the mess and waiting ’til dead of night to rub it against your scurvy tooth stumps? Weeing into your hammock to avoid the queue for the water closet? Not John Flood. Like an Irish J. Jonah Jameson with no photography budget, he was commissioning content for his convict newspaper.

The Wild Goose: A Collection of Ocean Waifs was a weekly edition—handwritten on foolscap donated by the onboard priest, and read aloud to passengers of the convict ship Hougoumont every Sunday. Reaching a landmark seven issues, The Wild Goose could be called Australia’s first zine. True to the traditions of zine-making, at least, it was a bitch to produce. In the transcripts, Flood’s grouchy asides reveal the challenges of convict-ship publishing—including losing “a great quantity of manuscript, some careless person having sat on our slates.”

more (via Jesse Walker)

Coming up: jail dress codes, “prison without punishment,” and maybe Gullah dispute resolution.

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